State COVID-19 Relief Legislation Now Law, Includes Priorities to Protect Access to Care

April 16, 2020

On April 15, Governor Tony Evers signed into law Assembly Bill 1038 as Wisconsin Act 185, legislation related to the state government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation, which received near unanimous support in both houses of the legislature, addresses several key issues facing the state’s residents, hospitals, providers and patients.
 
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau has produced memos summarizing provisions of the introduced bill and the Assembly Amendment engrossed into Assembly Bill 1038 before passage and enactment.
 
WHA has supported several elements of the proposed bill, which includes:
 
  • Authorizing the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee to allocate $75 million to address the public health emergency, including aid to hospitals and health care providers.
  • Temporarily suspending cost-sharing requirements for Medicaid enrollees, allowing the state to receive an additional $150 million per quarter in federal matching dollars into the Medicaid program.
  • Creating a new public health emergency dashboard, operated by the Wisconsin Hospital Association Information Center, to educate the public and lawmakers about relevant COVID-19 related data.
  • Providing limited liability protections, as done by Democratic and Republican Governors and legislatures in other states, for health care providers and professionals for certain acts or omissions taken during a state of emergency declared by the Governor under Executive Order 72 or during the period 60 days following the expiration of the state emergency.
  • Creating a presumption in Wisconsin’s worker’s compensation law for certain health care workers who test positive for COVID-19 that the condition was acquired on the job.
The bill also includes several provisions regarding health insurance coverage for COVID-19 and other conditions provided during or after the public health emergency.
 
  • Prohibiting health plans from requiring out-of-pocket cost sharing for COVID-19 related testing until March 13, 2021.
  • Requiring health insurers to reimburse out-of-network health care providers for certain services at 225% of the Medicare rate and requires providers to accept the payment as payment in full. These provisions apply during a state of emergency declared by the Governor under Executive Order 72 and during the period 60 days following the expiration of the state emergency.

This story originally appeared in the April 16, 2020 edition of WHA Newsletter